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31 Songs [Kindle Edition]

Nick Hornby
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Book Description

'I decided that I wanted to write a little book of essays about songs I loved ... Songs are what I listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else.'

In his first non-fiction work since Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby writes about 31 songs that either have some great significance in his life - or are just songs that he loves. He discusses, among other things, guitar solos and losing your virginity to a Rod Stewart song and singers whose teeth whistle and the sort of music you hear in Body Shop.

'The soundtrack to his life ... a revealing insight into one of Britain's most popular writers' Evening Standard

Product Description

Amazon Review

There is nothing quite so incomprehensible as love: 31 Songs is Nick Hornby's account of a selection of the music that lives deep in his heart and it is beside the point that most of us would make radically different selections. He makes some useful distinctions--these are not songs he loves for their associations so much as particular songs through which he learned more about his capacity for loving songs in general. Along the way, he talks movingly and intelligently about other matters on which those songs impinge--his relationship with his autistic son, his limited but real capacity for spirituality--but the songs rather than Hornby and his life are his real subject. It would be almost impossible to read this book and not get caught up in at least some of Hornby's enthusiasms--where you read thrillers trying not to cheat by looking at the end, here you spend time hoping the discography will be as good as the rest of it, and of course it is. The book is a serious attempt to define what it is about rock and pop that speaks to us in ways other types of music might not; those who either do not share Hornby's tastes or who have more eclectic ones will find it a useful and enlightening explication of what rock and pop do. --Roz Kaveney

About the Author

Nick Hornby was born in 1957, is the author of three previous novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy and How to be Good, and two works of non-fiction, Fever Pitch and 31 Songs, and the editor of two anthologies, My Favourite Year and Speaking with the Angel. In 1999 he was awarded the E. M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2002 he won the W. H. Smith Award for Fiction and in 2003 was honoured with the Writers' Writer Award at the Orange Word International Writers Festival. He lives in Highbury, North London

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 12173 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (28 Jun. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #139,750 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nick Hornby was born in 1957, and is the author of six novels, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How To Be Good, A Long Way Down (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award)Slam and Juliet, Naked. He is also the author of Fever Pitch, a book on his life as a devoted supporter of Arsenal Football Club, and has edited the collection of short stories Speaking with the Angel. He has written a book about his favourite songs, 31 Songs, and his reading habits,The Complete Polysyllabic Spree. In 2009 he wrote the screenplay for the film An Education. Nick Hornby lives and works in Highbury, north London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Does Music Mean To You? 7 Jan. 2004
What a great book. I cant explain how much it means to read honest, insightful and funny thoughts about music. But if music is your bread & butter (& jam) then you'll read it and just get it.
The chapters are song titles, but Hornby’s book is less like 31 song reviews, and more like a collection of essays about what music means and has meant to him, and how he has evolved musically. This is a passionate man who makes a lot of sense. As well as exploring a big bag of beautiful, personal, classic tunes that have shaped his musical development & generally made life more enjoyable, he talks about the value of a good pop song, puts musical intellectuals in their place, and admits to all kinds of uncool favourites. Cant really say more except, read it. If you're a happy music addict, you look back fondly at all the stuff you used to like, the stuff you didn’t used to like but now do, and now look forward to all the great stuff you’ve yet to hear and love - this book is for you. Thank you NH.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Singin' Him His Song... 22 Jan. 2004
“Songs are what I listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t listen to classical music or jazz very often, and when people ask me what music I like, I find it very difficult to reply, because they usually want names of people, and I can only give them song titles”.
So began the illustrious gathering of 31 songs – most of them loved, some of them once loved and all of them significant to Nick Hornby. They begin with Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Your Love Is In The Place Where I Come From’, ending with Patti Smith’s ‘Pissing In A River’, and encompassing singers as varied as Van Morrison and Nelly Furtado, songs as different as ‘Thunder Road’ and ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’ (reggae style). He discusses, among other things, guitar solos and singers whose teeth whistle, and the sort of music you hear in ‘The Body Shop’.
The mind of a musician is a difficult one to fathom, that of a music fan is even more so. Hornby lists his favourite songs and albums, by way of anecdotal explanation, and describes just what it is about music that stirs the blood in his trademark succinct and sparse fashion. He reveals intimate details about his family with touching references to his autistic son and his hope and fears for his future.
We might not agree with Hornby’s eclectic song choices, but will be more likely to side with his topography of the musical mind. He is unashamed in his adulation of songwriters, and admits that he writes books because he cannot write music: “Maybe it’s only songwriters who have ever had any inkling of what Jesus felt like on a bad day”.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What music means to Nick Hornby... 15 Jan. 2004
We already know Hornby's a music obsessive - it would've been impossible to write High Fidelity otherwise - but rather than Rob's obsessive cataloguing, this book presents Hornby's own reactions to some of his favourite songs.
It's not really a music book, as such - although he says a fair bit about the artists and the songs, what Hornby's really exploring in this book is how particular songs have influenced, evoked and helped him remember particular parts of his life - it's about the assocations music makes with his memories and emotions, and as such is actually more of an autobiography.
The style is light and readable, as you'd expect from Hornby, and the choice of tracks just surprising enough to keep you reading.
There are few shocking insights here, quite a few laughs and a few poignant moments, and a good slice of pop-cultural memories. It's fun, nostalgic, entertaining, and you'll have lots of fun arguing over which tracks you would've put into your own version!
Solid entertainment from a writer who understands just how music can take you back to a particular time, place and mood.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A kinder, gentler Fever Pitch 5 Dec. 2003
By HifiGuy
I read Songbook (the US version of 31 Songs) before a trip to the UK, and Fever Pitch (that I picked up at Harrod's) on the flight home. It's a similarly personal, almost autobiographical, book, but 31 Songs is obviously a more mature work, at least in tone. He's now ten years on from the man he was when he wrote Fever Pitch, and the depth of feeling about the songs, his experiences (particularly when writing about his son, and his friend the record store owner) is far more profound than his description of his football mania. But no less hilarious, frequently. Another fine work from one of my favorite contemporary writers.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Half of the songs in this book I'd never heard of, but it didn't matter. These are 31 songs that Nick Hornby wanted to tell us about, and I'm glad he did. For anyone that has loved any kind of music this wont disappoint. It feels very personal as he talks about why he's loved music through his life, from the songs he listened to as a boy to the songs his autistic son listens to now. It's also very funny in parts, have a read of 'Needle In A Haystack' by The Velvelettes.

When I used to read the NME in the eighties, I always enjoyed when the reviewer would stop talking about the band or singer and talk about the emotion and feeling that their music stirred up. 31 songs does this beautifully. I started by reading the artists I liked first, thinking I'll save The J. Geills Band for another time (all I knew by them was 'Centrefold'). After a few of the songs though, you dont really care what music it is to a certain degree, he writes so well.

I was becoming too busy to listen to the music I loved, but after reading this I'm going to find a bit more time. It is as engaging as his novels, I found it quite inspiring in parts, 31 musical 'thought for the days' that can be as meaningful or as meaningless as you like, but always passionate and entertaining.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Christmas present for my husband he was very pleased
Published 2 months ago by Margaret John
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book - only wish I'd never lent out ...
Love this book - only wish I'd never lent out the tape of the radio series where Hornby read extracts with the chosen tunes in the background - wish it would be repeated!
Published 7 months ago by Shels
4.0 out of 5 stars An Ode to Music
31 Songs is not really a book of music criticism. It’s an ode to music. Nick Hornby talks about music the way one might talk about a beloved friend. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Lucybird
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic
Massive fan of Nick Hornby anyway and a lover of all things music. If you're the same, you have to own this book.
Published 13 months ago by Michelle Naughton
5.0 out of 5 stars an apologia for pop music
I don't know what circles Nick Hornby moves in but his assertion that pop music is not taken seriously enough, and that this was part of the reason for writing this book is really... Read more
Published on 13 Feb. 2013 by Mr. Robert Marsland
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll give Frankie Teardrop a miss
I will happily read anything by Nick Hornby because I like the way his mind works. He avoids being self-regarding, while concentrating, here, on songs that have meant most to him -... Read more
Published on 18 Sept. 2009 by Eileen Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Offcuts from the carcase of bloke-lit
'31 Songs' isn't as profound as it thinks it is; it's a fun, quick read and rather enjoyable for the most part. Read more
Published on 28 Dec. 2008 by Patrick Neylan
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, self indulgent and uninteresting!
I have loved Nick Hornby's books, but this is a real stinker. I bought it from a bargain bin, and once I had read it, I felt like putting in a real bin! Read more
Published on 18 Mar. 2008 by Mr. C. J. Iredale
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book to read in the loo
This is a dipping in and out book. It's great when you want something to read that's magazine article length and not too taxing on the brain cells. Read more
Published on 11 Oct. 2007 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun
I enjoyed this light hearted review of 31 Songs that had touched the life of Nick Hornby who is obviously a very talented writer and a knowledgeable music fan. Read more
Published on 15 Mar. 2007 by jol legend @netfactorbooks
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